Highlanders U20 campaign finishes on a high note

Highlanders U20 captain Sean Withy was named player of the tournament. Photo: Getty Images
Highlanders U20 captain Sean Withy was named player of the tournament. Photo: Getty Images
The Highlanders under-20 side came away from the national tournament with plenty to be proud of.

It scored a gutsy 25-23 win over the Crusaders under-20 side in Taupo on Saturday to finish with a two win and one loss record.

Highlanders openside flanker and captain Sean Withy was also named as the player of the tournament, an impressive achievement. He was a livewire on the flank, and scored three tries in the side’s opening 70-17 victory over the NZ Barbarians.

Withy, who comes from Southland, has been training with the Highlanders and played four games for Otago last season.

The side lost 36-31 to the Hurricanes last Wednesday.

In the match against the Crusaders, the Highlanders rose off the mat to win the game.

Nathan Hastie, who is more of a halfback, came off the bench and nabbed two late tries on the right wing to set up a tense finish.

The Crusaders kicked a penalty with three minutes remaining to give the side a 23-22 lead.

But goal-kicking supremo Cameron Miller nailed a penalty from about 45m on the angle to win the game for the Highlanders.

It was a clutch effort from a player who looks to have a very bright future.

The Highlanders opted to play into a strong wind and spent most of the first half in their own territory.

The Crusaders led 15-3 at the break and continued to press.

But the southern men got on the front foot and struck through No 8 Arese Poliko. He crashed over from close range.

Miller nailed the conversion — his 17th successful attempt at goal in the tournament — before finally missing a shot at goal. He pushed a 50m penalty wide.

The Crusaders scored and it was a tough mountain to climb for the Highlanders. But they remained composed.

Hastie duly bagged a double and Miller kicked the game-winner.

The Chiefs under-20 side was the only team which won all its three games during the week.

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